Today would’ve been Ronnie James Dio‘s 81st birthday. I only had the chance to meet the legendary singer once, and it was something I’ll never forget.
It was in the fall of 1994. Grunge had taken a stranglehold on rock bands of a certain era and style. Ronnie found himself playing rock clubs as opposed to bigger theaters and smaller arenas. It was on the “Strange Highways” tour. The place was packed to see the show.
I did something that night I’d never done before or after, I brought all of my CD inserts for him to sign, just incase I had the chance to met him. Turns out, I did.
My friend, Jessie Galante, had recorded with Ronnie and knew him pretty well. After the show she went back to the bus and grabbed me to go with her. In her words “Since you were the hottest DJ in town, I brought you with me.” That’s debatable, but I’m not going to argue. LOL Man, it was so cool! Ronnie signed all my inserts, no problem. He even slid some of them over to Vinny Appice to sign the ones he played on, as well as bassist Jeff Pilson.
I think I was on the bus for maybe 10/15 minutes, just talking and hanging out. It was around that time that some of the guys starting rolling joints. I felt that I’d taken up enough of Ronnie’s time, and told him I was going to head out. He said “You don’t have to leave because of this.” motioning towards the bus table with weed all over it. I told him it wasn’t because of that, but that he was more than generous for the time and conversation. It was then that Ronnie stood up, all 5’4 of him, hugged me and said “Thank you for coming out tot he show.” It was a real moment that I’ll never forget.
It was an experience that to this day is hard to top for me. I recall asking Lzzy Hale about Ronnie’s kindness in an interview I did with her once. She told me that Dio said to her that she might not remember the names or faces of everyone she meets, but they’ll all remember her, so be kind to everyone. Good advice for anyone.
Happy Birthday, Ronnie!!!!